Winklevoss twins capitalizing on crypto, the ‘ultimate social network’
Austin, Texas (CNN)For years, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were known for the company they didn’t launch: Facebook. Now, the pair hope to be known for their bet on cryptocurrency, which they liken to a different kind of social network.
“Money is the oldest social network and arguably the strongest,” Cameron Winklevoss told CNN Business at SXSW in Austin. “And crypto is one of the strongest networks of value ever in the world and will continue to be so, so hopefully [we’ll be] pioneers in that space to some extent.”
The twins, who spent years in litigation accusing Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea and received a $65 million settlement, have made a name for themselves in the cryptocurrency space by becoming some of the first bitcoin billionaires and launching their own crypto exchange, Gemini, to buy and sell digital currencies.
Despite the volatility of cryptocurrencies — with bitcoin soaring to around $20,000 and now sinking to just below $4,000 — the brothers remain bullish on its future.
“Yes, there’s been some ups and downs in between, but overall if you zoom out long enough, the trend is going in the right direction,” Tyler Winklevoss told CNN Business at SXSW in Austin. “The graph is still up and to the right.”
Although they wouldn’t discuss their trading behavior or whether they’d sold a major portion of what they own, Tyler Winklevoss confirmed they still have holdings in various cryptos, including bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, tezos and filecoin.
But he called the space “a scary, wild, wild west type situation” when they first got into it in 2012. At the time, a bitcoin was only valued at $8.
“We’ve tried to solve that problem by creating Gemini, which allows you to engage with crypto in a regulated compliant trusted way,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “We’re trying to make it easy to onboard because our own experience in the space was very difficult, scary, and risky, and we’ve spent the last five years trying to mitigate that.”
Cameron Winklevoss said Gemini, which was founded in 2014, continues to grow in the US, Asia, Canada and UK, attracting new talent from the financial services industry and top tech companies. It’s now focused on expanding into Europe and recently launched a mobile app.
“It’s been really fun to be a part of two major revolutions or movements,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “I guess we sort of have a thing for networks: Facebook ( being a social network and then money or crypto being the ultimate social network.” )
“Instead of trading pictures or connecting with people, which is important and very cool, you can trade value,” he added.
Although the crypto industry still receives criticism from seasoned investors like Warren Buffett, the space is also evolving. In fact, Facebook is reportedly looking to build its own stablecoin, or coins pegged to actual currencies like the US dollar.
“It’s very exciting and validating for the space of crypto,” Cameron Winklevoss said of the news.